Archive for the ‘Personal Posts’ Category

How can you lose a referendum and then win the election?

Friday, April 10th, 2015

Professor John Curtice writes at FiveThirtyEight on the SNP and the upcoming General Election vote in Scotland:

There are three main parts to the answer. The first is that May’s election is being held under very different rules from the referendum. Second, the question of what Scotland’s constitutional status should be now matters more to voters than it did in the past. And third, the SNP has come to be regarded by many voters as the party keenest on creating a more equal society.

At 45 percent, the average level of support for the SNP in current Scotland-wide polls matches the percentage that the “yes” side won in the referendum. Indeed, it also equals the 45 percent that the SNP won in the election to the devolved Scottish Parliament held in May 2011. The crucial difference is that whereas 45 percent is always insufficient to win a referendum, it can be enough to win a landslide in an election that is held under the first-past-the-post electoral system and in which a multitude of parties are in contention.

This is a good primer for anyone wondering how you can go from losing the referendum on Independence in September 2014, and then potentially hold the balance of power in Westminster in May 2015.

Get the most from SXSW with my introductory podcasts

Thursday, March 12th, 2015

SXSW is here, and that means I’m in Austin, Texas for the usual jamboree of music, film, and interactive bits and pieces. As always I’ll be blogging, interviewing, and podcasting, over at As part of that, there’s a series of podcasts on how to get the most out of SXSW. You could subscribe to the podcast (here’s the RSS feed), but to get you started, here’s the three ‘primers’ for the two weeks in sunny Austin.

The Beginner’s Podcast

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The Intermediate Podcast

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The Ninja Podcast

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And I’ll have more from Austin and SXSW every day at SXSW Baby!

Support for this year’s podcasts comes from HipChat. Bring your team to life, with group and private chat, file sharing, and integrations, all at

That’s what being alive is all about

Thursday, March 12th, 2015

From @TerryAndRob

Terry took Death’s arm and followed him through the doors and on to the black desert under the endless night.

Probably one of the most gut-punch tweets you’ll read in a long time, even if we knew it was coming. Rest well…

Buying stuff and supporting the indies in 2015

Saturday, January 3rd, 2015

One of the things I want to do this year is support more creative and independent people out there, both through links and coverage in places like SXSW Baby! or Edinburgh Nights), but also through buying their stuff. It might be a few pounds online for a shareware registration fee, a CD, or a crowd funding project for a book, but I’m going to push a bit more on that door in 2015.

Starting with the OSX screen saver that everyone seems to love (or at least asks about) on my Mac. It’s a series of animated slides lifted from ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’  representing the control screens on the USS Discovery and the Hal 9000 computer. Geeky, gorgeous;y functional to look at, and a great conversation piece with everyone who recognises it.

Find out more at

I posted this on January the 2nd.

Thursday, January 1st, 2015

Not posting on January 1st means I don;t have to worry about any sort of ‘try and post every day on your blog’… so I wrote this on the second of the month, but I backdated it because much as I know I’m not going to write on this blog every day, I do write every day, and want to show that.

Or it’s OCD, go figure.


Thursday, December 18th, 2014

It’s December 18th again. Damn.

What if terrorists used pictures of cats?

Thursday, November 27th, 2014

Two things to note from the lunacy of ‘social networks should tell Teresa May when someone is being a terrorist online’ and §  the ‘former global counter-terrorism director of MI6’ writing in The Guardian:

…even in the United Kingdom there are about 25 million users of Facebook and so let’s say possibly about 125m posts a day. And even if you take out all the pictures of kittens which were put up you’d still be left with an awful lot to go through


…people who wanted to get around restrictions placed on their communications could probably do so quite easily by using encryption.

What if they were to encrypt their communications in the pictures of cats that MI6 discard?

Scotland’s obvious Plan B is playing out as expected

Friday, November 14th, 2014

Miranda Green in Newsweek:

What they may not realise, or not fully, is the extent to which Salmond may be preparing to work from the Commons in concert with Nicola Sturgeon in Holyrood to exploit Cameron’s promise of a referendum on EU membership. In this ‘Plan B’ any boost to the self-government of Scotland will help. “Nicola is preparing the ground for a blocking position. If we are in this quasi-federal position then each of the constituent parts [of the UK] has to decide to jump out together. Not one part saying ‘right, I’m jumping out, you lot, you’re just coming wi’us. And you know, if Westminster doesn’t like that, there’s an obvious solution.”

This last threat ends with the hardest, longest and fiercest glare yet – an EU referendum in which England voted for ‘out’ but Scotland voted for ‘in’ could provoke a crisis that achieves independence by the back door.

The best of this is that almost everyone following saw this plan coming the second Salmond stepped down… except Westminster. If the Lib-Dems crash and burn, and Labour supporters in Scotland Swing 40 seats from Labour to SNP, you could due looking at the SNP as the third party in a hung Westminster parliament, with Alex Salmond getting two questions every Wednesday at PMQs.

As all the good Westerns go there’s one more mission for the warhorse running interference and blocking for his protege back in the homestead.

The Chuckle Brothers, ft Tinchy Stryder

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

The world needs more Barry and Paul in the charts, and congrats to Stryder for being a great sport.

Ready… Aim… Fold… FLY!

Monday, October 13th, 2014

Because what the world needs is more Paper Aeroplane Guns. A4 sheets in the magazine, perfectly folded wings of death from the muzzle.

A new home for my blog

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014

Yes, it looks remarkably like the old home, I’m not one for major redesigns for a web blog just because the seasons change. All that’s happened is the blog has moved to, so if you have any bookmarks, go right ahead and update them. There might be a few teething troubles with lingering references to the old site, if you spot any, do let me know.

The problem with Boba-Fett

Friday, May 23rd, 2014

Every time I hear something about Star Wars’ favourite bounty hunter, Boba Fett I shudder. That includes the latest speculation that he’s getting a standalone film. Why? Because  he’s played by Jeremy Bulloch, and I know him from another film.

You see, Boba Fett is Cliff Richard’s comic relief in ‘Summer Holiday‘.

“My secret life is falling… falling from grace”

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

You know that moment when your favourite Italian rock-noir band announces a crowd funding project so they can play their greatest hits with a full orchestra backing them?

Belladonna’s Orchestral Album is looking for funding. I’m in.

Edinburgh’s Spitfire saved

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

Edinburgh Airport’s gate guardian will remain in place, reports the Evening News.

The airport has reached an agreement with Iain Hutchison, director of engineering firm Merlin ERD, who builds and flies replica Spitfires in his free time, and has even flown one of the 

Now his company will take over the care and maintenance of the replica Spitfire at the entrance to the airport, which is painted in the colours of the 603 (City of Edinburgh) 
Fighter Squadron, one of the most effective units in the Battle of Britain.

Twenty Years Without Roland Ratzenberger

Saturday, May 3rd, 2014

At this time of year, I remember one of the best pieces that Jim Hughes posted on my former Formula 1 blog Fun-1. It was a tongue in cheek look at the F1 world, with the occasional serious moment.

Such as this one. Which still resonates this time every year:

Today is the tenth anniversary of Ayrton Senna’s death at Imola. So what has happened in Formula 1? Are the cars safer, slower, is the driving cleaner? Yes, No and definitely not – Michael’s outrageous punting off of JPM at Imola is graphic evidence of how low F1 driver standards have sunk in the past decade.

I watched both accidents at Imola ten years ago (I also watched Berger’s accident at Tamburello a few years previously), Ayrton’s didn’t affect me. Maybe I was still in shock, but I never liked the guy. Sure he was exquisitely fast, but his general attitude to racing – if in doubt punt your rivals off – was abhorrent to me, imagine your grief if Michael was killed today? Rightly or wrongly that’s  pretty much how I felt about Ayrton.

Roland Ratzenberger was a different matter; he was one of the good guys. I’d seen him race at Le Mans a few times, and he was no muppet paying for a seat. I believe he was Toyota’s first non-Japanese works driver, which in those days said a lot, even if Toyota’s current approach to employing drivers is somewhat surreal. Just wanting Schumi lite never mind being willing to pay him millions is rather odd…

Watching a driver (or any human being) being given heart massage  on live television is not an everyday sight, and it’s not one I want to see again. But that’s what I saw after Roland’s accident and it was very moving and disturbing. Later in 1994 I went to Le Mans and one of the SARD Toyotas had four drivers’ names painted next to the door, but only three drivers at the circuit; Eddie Irvine, Jeff Krosnoff and Mauro Martini. This is the car that Roland was supposed to have been driving.

90 minutes from the end of the race it was leading, when it slowed and stopped just past me on the pit straight with a broken gear linkage. Krosnoff got out of the car, went around the back and manually selected third gear. He then set off on a slow lap of the 9 mile circuit before pitting for the linkage to be replaced. The car lost 13 minutes and dropped back to third place, 15 seconds behind the second placed car. Irvine cut this lead at a rate of three seconds per lap, and I’ve never seen so many people willing a car to go faster. Irvine took second place on the penultimate lap, but the lead car was a lap ahead, and “Roland’s” team had to settle for second place.

Roland, Ayrton, rest in peace.